Updated: Jul 3
Have you ever experienced something hurtful? Has anyone ever done anything to you on purpose or by accident that created a whirlwind of ache and anger inside you and you're struggling to get over it and move on?
I don’t think any of us would be human if we didn’t say yes to at least one of those questions. I know I’ve experienced it before, and I’m sure, even if I didn’t know it, I may have caused a stranger, family member or friend to feel emotionally alienated or hurt in the past. Sadly, this happens both ways to all of us some time in our lives.
This doesn't feel good
But, have we moved on from it or have the ravages of resentment taken hold inside us and pulled us into that dark place where anger and bitterness wrap around us like a dark cloak? When we are unable to work through lingering unresolved anger and bitterness it will affect our relationships, leave us feeling irritated all the time, aggressive and defensive, as well as affect our heart rate, blood pressure, and wreak havoc on our immune system.
According to the American Heritage dictionary, resentment can be defined as indignation or feeling ill will as a result of a real or imagined offense. Not unlike trauma symptoms, some symptoms of resentment might include:
· Fear and Avoiding talking about the incident or memory
· Feelings of excessive anger when thinking about the injustice and thinking about it all the time
· Difficulty with relationships and getting along with others
· Having feelings of shame or regret (negative feelings about yourself)
Effects of Resentment
According to John Hopkins Medicine, negative feelings and resentment can trigger the immune system to go into flight or fight mode just thinking about the event that caused the pain or heartache. This sets off a chain of events that can trigger other health problems if left unchecked too long. The body isn’t designed to stay on high alert for extended periods of time. The continued release of these hormones can take its toll on the body and display this imbalance through mood disorder symptoms and compromised health.
Forgiveness and Resentment
Karen Swartz dictates that forgiveness might be key to letting go of resentment. This isn’t an easy task, but one that might be worth checking into because unforgiveness and resentment can turn into hate, and hate is a powerful emotion if left to its own accord.
If you notice any of the above symptoms or find yourself lingering over something that happened in the past and can’t stop thinking about it or you refuse to talk to anyone about it, you might want to work through the issue with a counselor or find a good friend to share your feelings with. The ravages of resentment might just be lurking all around you creating the mood and health problems you’ve been ignoring or noticing.
Coping with Resentment
Journaling your feelings, practicing self-regulation techniques such as deep breathing, and allowing yourself to forgive can all have positive affects in changing these negative feelings into positive ones, and provide growth and healing. Remember, forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation; it just means you’ve decided to let go of what binds you and keeps you from living the life you want.
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Next time we’ll talk more about forgiveness and how to implement it into our lives for greater emotional healing and better health.
Lori C. Helms M.A., LMHC